Ampersand Design Studio


Category Archives: art + design

Branding for Bloggers 08.07.2013

Last Friday we had the pleasure of speaking about Branding for Bloggers at the very first Go Blog Social Conference in Kansas City!! It was a great turnout and we were so thrilled to get to meet some new blogger-friends, and of course catch up with some KC blogger besties!

Just in case you wanted to attend and didn’t get the chance, we wanted to share a few thoughts from our presentation. Clearly we won’t type out an hour long talk for you on this post, but here are a few highlights for those of you interested in branding your blog or taking it to a new level.

What is a Brand?

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. —Seth Godin

Why do you need a Brand?

Your blog branding is another way to describe the whole experience for someone coming to your site, not just your blog’s content. And whether your blog is a part of a business or not, you’re still trying to win the interest of readers (even if your mom is your only reader). This includes a logo, colors, typefaces, and content in each post.

Brand YOU

The idea of branding your blog can seem a little overwhelming until you realize that YOU are your brand. And you KNOW you. The key is to be true to yourself. No one else can tell your unique story and that alone sets your blog apart from any other. Figure out what makes you different, be authentic, and then work it to connect with people on a deeper level. Create original content and readers will keep returning.


Brand Statement

This is a phrase that’s quick and memorable. You can refer back to this to make sure you are staying true to your vision. When we get hired to design visual identities for other companies, this is the first step we take with them to help define what their brand is all about in order to create the perfect logo, business cards and other collateral that will accurately portray what they do. Once you’ve distilled things down to this statement, it is much easier to keep things consistent which really is the key to creating a strong bran.

Make it Pretty

Once you’ve thought about what makes you unique and what your slant will be, it’s time to think about how you will translate that voice to the visual part of your blog. The layout and look of your blog is as important as your content (in our opinion). Create a blog that’s well-designed and people will be much more inclined to read it.

You have to Start Somewhere

There are lots of resources out there whether it’s hiring a full service web designer to online tutorials. Start taking steps towards refining your blog brand. If you don’t look back at where you started and feel a little embarrassed, then you haven’t grown!

A quick pause to give a little shout out to these two ladies! Our biggest thanks to Sarah & Kat, the founders of Go Blog Social, for putting together such a great conference! It was great to meet you both, and we’re thankful you asked us to be a part of GBS2013! We can’t wait to see what you do next! (PS – how cute is Carrie’s baby belly?!!)

Lastly, we shared one of our favorite quotes with the attendees and we want to share it with all of you! This quote by Ira Glass is something that has inspired us over and over again and we hope it does the same for you!


  1. Getting Inspired | City In A Jar

    [...] an “oh. yes. i should remember that.” moment and came when Carrie and Morgan shared an Ira Glass quote I’d read [...]

    August 8, 2013 11:53 am
  2. The Wonderful Web | Lovely in the Everyday

    [...] -branding is kind of a foreign thing to me [...]

    August 11, 2013 5:08 pm
  3. Kaitlin

    Thanks for the advice! I launched my blog earlier this month and it is very important to remember the importance of good branding!

    August 21, 2013 7:14 pm
    • ampersand

      You are so welcome, Kaitlin! Congrats on the launch of your blog! Cheers!

      August 21, 2013 8:13 pm

Trig 07.26.2013

Isn’t this just pure fun to look at? As trained graphic designers and current pattern designers and forever color-lovers…..ahh, this is just overload of fun!! It’s a project by Olivia King,a designer and illustrator based in Sydney, Australia. This project is called Trig and here’s a little description straight from the mind of the designer:  “I recently started working on a project that’s a been a combination of two of my great loves – geometric patterns and accessory design. I was always pretty terrible at maths in school, but the name Trigonometry seemed ironically appropriate in light of my passion for triangles. Using a selection of native Australian materials, and hand painted wood, the first prototype designs were endless and I quickly realised the potential for project where the designs weren’t mine, but those of the customers themselves. Using the Trig app, each piece is unique the tastes and style of those making them, with colour, shape and material options available in multiple variations. The final products are finished with natural oils and packaged in bright boxes with personalised thank you cards, ready for wear within days of their creation.”

Check our Olivia King’s portfolio here

  1. Jen Ramos

    So cool!! Love all these shapes and colors– definitely eye catching.


    August 1, 2013 8:21 pm

surtex 2013 // the big recap 06.10.2013

Although it was just two and a half weeks ago that we returned home from Surtex, it already seems like months have passed! This was our second year showing at the biggest art licensing trade show in the country and it was a complete whirlwind of seeing new and old friends, catching up with past clients and meeting many potential new clients, and of course, finding a little bit of free time to explore NYC!

If you’re reading this, wondering what Surtex is, here’s a brief description from their site:

“SURTEX® is the global B2B marketplace for original art & design—where artists, agents and licensors connect with manufacturers and retailers to create the next best-selling products in every category imaginable. Wall coverings, decorative accessories, bed linens, stationery, giftware, tabletop and so many more…if it’s any product with a surface design of any kind, there’s a good chance it originated at SURTEX. That’s because each year some 7,000 buyers/manufacturers from 49 countries converge on the SURTEX exhibit floor to buy or license the newest designs from approximately 1,000 trend-setting artists. It’s a veritable who’s who of manufacturers and retailers seeking first dibs on the best original art & design being created today.”

When each artist arrives into the humongous Javits Center, this blank, cold, empty booth is what is waiting to be transformed. After doing tons of research last year, we pretty much had our set-up method down! We got our banners hung and shelf displays put up in just a few short hours and ended up with the entire afternoon to play in the city! (Last year we spent two days setting up-yikes!)

This was the first year we decided to put some of our actual products on display. We showed off some of our awesome licensed pieces like the patterned notebook sets and bicycle boxed cards (currently sold out-sorry) from teNeues, the Cream & Sugar fabric collection with Windham Fabrics, and even some of our very own products like the famous ampersand prints and our newly-released cell-phone cases!

Psst…we had some rainbowy-bright “I Heart Ampersand” pencils to give away for everyone that visited our booth! Note to self for next year: sharpen pencils BEFORE you arrive in NYC. Our booth was filled with pencil shavings but at least it gave us something to do during down time.

How amazing is this banner??!!! We found it on etsy from Studio Mucci and the entire shop is filled great handmade paper decorations in some pretty fabulous color palettes! Make sure to check them out! It’s crazy how many compliments we got about our fun tassel garland!!

We had a few takeaways to go alongside our pencils! Hey, you never know what’s going to make someone remember your booth, right?

We sported our ampersand bracelets (from Make Pie Not War) for good luck. And we accidentally dressed like our booth every single one of the three days. At one point, Morgan’s pants were practically camouflage with one of our banners.

Overall, the second year showing at Surtex felt very different than the first. We just sort of knew what to expect, everything wasn’t so unknown. We had many current clients that we were excited to get to see in person again after an entire year has passed! It’s crazy how frequently we email and talk with so many people that we collaborate with, but don’t actually get to see them in person, so, Surtex and Design Week in NYC is our form of a little reunion, and talking to our work friends was a real highlight! This year we also attended the Surtex happy hour and the Smart Creative Women happy hour, both of which were so great! During the show hours, we really feel tied to our booth to make the best of our time there, so the little get-togethers after hours allowed us to meet and hang out with some fellow artists, many of which have been huge inspirations to us! Others we’ve only talked to virtually, and others we met last year and were excited to see again. You’re getting the point, right? It really is like Designer Camp in NYC!

Everyone keeps asking us, “how’d the show go?”, and the truth is, you never really know until many months following because you don’t actually sell artwork or sign contracts on the spot. All those discussions happen once we get home. That being said, we’re pretty darn excited about the relationships we made this year! We were walking out of the show on the last day, dancing and singing. If all goes well, we cannot wait to be sharing the fun products that Ampersand designs will be making a splash on….so fingers crossed, right?!!!!!

We had to share the picture below of The Highline. On the last night, we packed up our booth in record time, dropped off our boxes, and just walked. Walked and walked all the way from our hotel down to The Standard Hotel for our tradition of celebratory drinks. There are a lot of long nights and crazy work days leading up to the show, then we try to make the very best of those three days while we’re there, so it is such a relief when it’s over! We can literally feel our shoulders resting a little lower. Just making it to the show is a success. So yeah, we just walked The Highline and talked about the future and took in the fresh (non-convention-center) air and the beautiful view!

And this is too funny not to include, this is how we ended all of our evenings in NYC! ha!

  1. Gaby [The Vault Files]

    Love your stand ladies, looks so great! And you two looked fabulous! Good luck! ;)

    June 11, 2013 3:37 pm
  2. Cindy

    I wish I could have been there. I love love love the booth and your style! I hope one day we can work together!! :)

    June 11, 2013 9:36 pm
  3. studio mucci on | Ampersand Design Studio

    [...] the cool tassel garland we had at our surtex booth? well…now is a good time for you to get yoru very own! studio mucci is on!! go, go, [...]

    June 21, 2013 3:03 am
  4. kat kalindi cameron

    Hey girls, this was cool reading about your experience! I am going to be a newbie at surtex this year, so getting as much info as possible, i’ll be sure to pop into your booth! x

    February 22, 2014 6:44 am

this might be our favorite thing we’ve ever seen 05.28.2013

We’re not sure if we could love anything more than this rainbow, abstract painting on the exterior of a church in Washington, DC!!!

Artist, Alex Brewer, also known as HENSE, first made a name for himself as a graffiti artist and his work grew into the realm of public art, grants, commissions, and cross-media connections which have landed him local, national and international public art projects. Brewer developed his skill for graffiti in the mid to late ‘90s and early 2000s.

We couldn’t describe his work better than this: “HENSE’s manic marks, scribbles, drips and splashes produce an agitated tangle of shapes, symbols and figures that offer the viewer a unique and strangely peaceful platform for the eyes and mind. His slick stylizing may send observers on a roller coaster ride of emotions, perturbed to peaceful, angry to inspired, always travelling at the command of the individual’s own subconscious collection of experiences.”

Ted Elmore – RVA News

{all images from HENSE’s website}

comments 7

  1. Uncle Beefy

    Gah!!! JOYOUS!!!

    May 28, 2013 7:03 am
  2. Rhaynelina Estevez

    Wow, amazing! Never seen something like this…

    May 28, 2013 9:50 am
  3. Josephine Kimberling

    LOVE this!!!!

    May 28, 2013 3:00 pm
  4. ampersand

    we know, we know!!! so glad you guys think this is as incredible as we do!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2013 4:56 pm
  5. Sarah York

    This is amazing!!!! Would love to see it in person. I wonder what the neighbors think? Love!

    May 28, 2013 9:02 pm
  6. Anne Brent

    I want to go to there. His paintings are amazing too, like Rothko, Pollock and Rosenquist got together for a good ole crazy time. Want!

    May 29, 2013 3:57 pm
  7. julie

    I agree! I’ve been following Hense for a while and this is just so amazing!! I can’t imagine how he keeps the spontaneity in his work at such a large scale…truly amazing!
    ps I love your work :)

    May 12, 2014 3:52 pm